After a night of little sleep and waking up with a sore throat, I caught the festival shuttle on what was the brightest and warmest day of the weekend. It seemed to be a pretty quiet ride over, a huge difference from the last 2 days. Perhaps people were getting burnt out. Let’s face it, nearly 10 hours a day of constant music, walking, and of course, drinking for 3 days in a row can take it’s toll. I arrived to a drier than expected field just as Elephant Stone, who are one of my favorite bands, were setting up.
With their faces painted, Elephant Stone played to a decent sized crowd at the main stage. They were one of the best bands I saw over the weekend and I highly recommend their album “The Seven Seas“. One of the biggest highlights was singer/guitarist Rishi Dhir’s sitar playing. As a bonus, the Allah Las Matthew Correia came out and played tambourine. (On a side note: For the second day in a row, I ended up standing next to some guy who was really the only douchebag I encountered all weekend. You would think that someone lucky enough to have a press wristband would shut up and not have loud conversations with his friends during every bands set, annoying everyone around them in the process. This wasn’t anything moving to a different location couldn’t solve, but it was weird that I kept running into this guy at the main stage.)
Down at the Levitation Amphitheatre, a band called Dreamtime, who are from Australia, were setting up. Their music was pretty heavy on the reverb which isn’t a band thing at all and fit right in with the festival. I ended up leaving during their set to find some shade since I could feel myself getting burnt by the sun. I wandered around and got yet another Tito’s Vodka drink, which I managed to finish way too fast, then went back to watch more of Dreamtime’s set. I hit up the Juiceland stand after the set for another Mexican American drink (which was given to me for free since they ran out of cucumber kale juice…one of the main ingredients of this beverage and I still believe the Tito’s vodka would have been a perfect substitute. In hindsight, I could have just bought a shot and dumped it in…lesson learned!).
The Cult of Dom Keller
The Cult of Dom Keller were playing to a large crowd in the tent. I got a hot dog smothered in gravy at Franks which was near the tent. Somehow I managed to eat this thing despite a lack of plastic knives, while still being able to see and hear the band from where I was standing outside of the tent, who were really loud!
I went over to the main stage to see King Kahn and BBQ since it seemed like a lot of people were excited that these guys were playing the fest, but just couldn’t get into it, so back down to the river to check out Deap Vally. They are a 2 piece female band from Los Angeles who played very loud garage rock and I was totally feeling it.
At this point my allergies were killing me, probably due to a combination of 2 1/2 days of constant second hand cigarette smoke and probably pollen. There was a small general store near the campground area, so I went over to find some sort of allergy relief medicine. The only thing they had was ibuprofen (although I probably could have bought a condom for $2 and put it over my head…that would have worked, right?). I loaded up on napkins from the neighboring Franks hot dog stand and tried to deal with it.
After hearing so much about Roky Erikson, I went over to the main stage to check him out. I wasn’t all that familiar with his music past or present, but he did seem to be belting out the songs in a gravely sounding voice, although it still wasn’t really my kind of thing (does this mean I have to turn in my psych fest card?). I was feeling pretty miserable now and considered just taking a cab back to my hotel just to find some Claritin for the allergies. I decided to stick it out because 1, cabs are crazy expensive, and 2, I really wanted to see The Black Angels later. I decide that I’ll try to catch the first shuttle back later on.
Back to the tent to see Indian Jewelry, who were visibly pissed off due to a few technical issues at the beginning of their set, such as not having the right visuals playing behind them. After a few minutes, they went right into a pulsing song and lots of strobe lights I was happy to finally see them live.
The Black Angels
While waiting for The Black Angels to go on, I hit up the Whole Foods truck to get a couple of tacos for dinner, which took way longer than expected. The Black Angels, who are also some of the people responsible for the Austin Psych Fest existing, took the stage. At least you had a decent view of the main stage from the food truck area, so the 20 minutes it took to get my food wasn’t a total loss. I made my way closer to the stage and scarfed the tacos down pretty quickly and tried to get as close as I could, but there was a pretty huge crowd. The Black Angels ended with just a guy playing a sitar. It was great!
I went down to the river stage to see Goat who came from Sweden and are a band known for putting on an interesting show. Plus, who knows when I’ll ever get a chance to see them again. This was the most interesting band of Sunday. Wearing weird costumes and masks, they played their strange noisy trance-like music in near darkness, which made them really hard to see. This really set the mood for their show. If you get the chance, definitely check this band out. I decided to call it a night at this point and made my way to the shuttle stop. This was probably the shortest amount of time I had waited for the shuttle, about 20-30 minutes, all weekend. I hit up 7-11 yet again for some late night munchies and went back to my hotel where I was starting to get bummed about having to leave Austin.
There were a few issues that while not deal breakers, kind of added up to be annoyances (not in any particular order):
* The festival shuttle: I understand that this is the first year in a new location, but only running 1 shuttle at a time on Friday night was just bad. There was a near revolt from those of us who had to wait nearly 2 hours. Lots of people walked 2 1/2 miles up the highway to get back to their hotels.
* Merch booths: I wasn’t the only one trying to find some BRMC t-shirts as well as some from other bands, as I found out by talking with other people there. The merch tent near the entrance was pretty bad. They could have at least hung up one of each of the shirts so people could actually see what they wanted to buy instead of pushing t-shirts leftover from last year (?) and Brian Jonestown Massacre shirts, who didn’t even play this year. I guess the organizers really, really, really like that band. I missed out on a couple of commemorative shirts because they didn’t have my size (I ran into this same issue at Waterloo in the airport as well). Also, the official Psych Fest shirt I did buy, ended up fitting like a girls shirt although some research showed that it was a unisex t-shirt, but yeah, I can’t wear it.
* The cigarette smoke: The reason I’m sick at the time of writing this and came down with severe laryngitis. I know that you can’t do anything about it, but wow, they sure do love their cigarettes in Austin!
* The beer: Dos Equis Amber and Dos Equis Lager. Yeah, that’s it. Why weren’t there any locally brewed beers or microbrews? The beer, or lack of, was the biggest complaint I heard from people all weekend. At least they had Tito’s vodka, which was really good no matter what you had it mixed with.
* The food trucks: A decent selection with some unique choices (chicken waffle tacos! Those weird spicy potato things! Gordoughs!) but no pizza?
* The Port-a-potties: These were plentiful and there was never a line to use one, but where was the sanitizer? Eww! Must remember to bring some next year.
* Lack of lighting: It was pretty hard to walk around at night. I saw more than a few people nearly get stepped on.
* Lack of somewhere safe to go during a storm: It rained on Saturday night. It rained pretty damn hard. And there was lightning, but not enough places to take shelter. This isn’t a fault of the Psych Fest, so much as the venue, but a small covered area won’t cut it as the festival gets bigger.
So that’s about it. Overall, I’m glad I finally went this year. I saw a lot of great bands, met a few cool people, had a pretty awesome time, except for the last day which was more due to me being sick (and the 2 weeks of laryngitis after I got back home). At first, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go back next year, but the more I thought about it, I really did have a great time and will most definitely be back in 2014!